Ohio Has an $8.8 Billion a Year Opioid Problem; What Will President Trump's Declaration Do About It?

Oct 26, 2017

Lori Criss of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers appeared on a panel at an Impact Ohio Akron Regional Conference hours before President Trump made his announcement. The panel was examining solutions to the opioid epidemic.
Credit M.L. SCHULTZE / WKSU public radio

Ohioans dealing with the addiction crisis had been hoping President Trump’s emergency declaration would direct new money to fight the opioid epidemic. As WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, new funding isn’t there. But redirecting job-training money is.

Trump’s declaration of a national public health emergency includes a shift in some unspecified federal grant funds and a ramping up of telemedicine to allow people to get prescriptions to addiction-fighting drugs without seeing a doctor in-person. It also opens up dislocated worker grants – job training funds for people who are laid off -- to go to those who can’t get jobs because of their addiction.

'There's great research on how having that purposeful activity is part of the recovery process and so it's really promising to think they might invest in that.'

Lori Criss of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers, says job-training isn’t incidental to addiction recovery and those funds have been lacking.

“There hasn’t really been an investment in that work-pathway for people recovering from substance abuse disorders, also there’s great research and guidance on how having that purposeful activity is part of the recovery process and so it’s really promising to think they might invest in that.”

But Criss says the key to dealing with the addiction crisis is to have the same kind of public-health response and insurance coverage as with other diseases such as cancer.

People with just high-school diplomas are 14 times more likely to die of drug overdoses than those with college degrees, according to a new study by Ohio State University.

Lori Criss of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Services Providers says the benefits of a higher-level of training makes sense.

“It sets people up for housing stability, relationship stability, economic stability and a better pathway in their communities and their life in general. And so having that job training, being connected to work and those meaningful activities creates a lot of opportunities in other part of their lives as well.”

A new study from Ohio State  says the opioid epidemic is costing Ohio between $6.6 billion and $8.8 billion a year -- and yet the state has the capacity to treat less just 20 to 40 percent of those abusing opioids.